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The edible lawn project and benefits of a locally grown diet

Suburban Farm
Suburban Farm
Photo by Jason Bahr

Edible Estates, or the Edible Lawn Project, began in 2005 in Kansas when Fritz Haeg planted the first garden in the series. It has since spread to cities all over he world including Austin.

Haeg is not a nutritional expert or horticulturist. Nor is he is he in the agricultural industry. He is an artist and his lawn projects are works of art meant to inspire others and promote self-sustainability. In an interview with the American Society of Landscape Architects, Haeg states,

"While of course I have an earnest interest in growing food at home, what really excites me is the sense of attacking the archaic values of the conventional manicured landscape and replacing it with casual, wild, and handmade gardens that propose an alternative set of values which are more evolved, civilized, healthy, participatory, and full of pleasure. If you see your neighbors remove their lawn and replace it with a space to grow food, suddenly the city opens up for you. I hope this leads to the collective imaginings of a more participatory city that's less like TV and more active, inspiring landscapes and cities that are not there for passive viewing but for active participation."

The project begins with a volunteer. The building of the garden and the first season of growth are presented in exhibitions with photos and videos of the progress.The first sixteen gardens are presented in the book Edible Estates: Attack of the Front Lawn. Haeg is not interested in expanding the project for capital. He is interested only in getting individuals and families to grow their own food. He believes it is contagious. The idea is that a lawn without food is just wasted space.

The Austin edible lawn was commissioned by Arthouse at the Jones Center and located at Sierra Ridge. Sierra Ridge is part of Foundation Communities, an organization that offers affordable housing for families with children, veterans, people with disabilities and seniors.

Part of the project is to use so-called wasted space and replace it with a need that is practical and logical, but it is also doing much more. Knowingly or not, the edible lawn projects are promoting exceptional health practices. Fruits and vegetables that are grown locally are packed with vital nutrients much more than store-bought produce especially those that are not in season.

Food directly from the garden taste better and has less of an environmental impact because it does not have to be shipped from anywhere. The less the food has been handled, the less the chance of contamination.

Furthermore, it saves a bill of groceries and there is satisfaction in doing it yourself.